News release

Benchmarking indicates many jurisdictions have a common qualifying assessment, similar to SQE proposals

A new benchmarking exercise has shown that central assessments similar to the proposed Solicitors Qualifying Examination (SQE) are widespread in the major jurisdictions around the world.

The exercise, conducted by the Solicitors Regulation Authority, focused on 18 of the most important jurisdictions worldwide, looking at typical and best practice, including degree and work experience requirements.

Published today, the report shows that almost 80 percent of the major jurisdictions have a common assessment as part of their legal qualification routes, including New York, California, Ontario, Germany, France and India.

The jurisdictions where centralised assessment is not currently required include British Columbia, New South Wales and Victoria, which appear to follow the existing approach used in England and Wales.

The research also found 94 percent require a degree or equivalent to qualify as a lawyer, while 83 percent of jurisdictions require legal work experience prior to qualification as a solicitor. It also shows that a five to six year qualification route is the most common.

SRA Chief Executive, Paul Philip, said: "In June, we said we would develop our thinking and bring forward further work on our initial SQE proposals.

"Over the summer, we have been listening and gathering more evidence. This benchmarking is one part of that. We are committed to building on the English and Welsh international reputation for producing excellent lawyers and wanted to better understand the global picture.

"Our report shows that most major jurisdictions see a centralised assessment, combined with work-based learning and a law degree or equivalent level of education, as the best way to make sure solicitors are competent.

"Our upcoming autumn consultation will offer everyone the chance to look at the detail of how the whole qualification process would work and how our proposals all fit together."

The SQE will be one of the main topics of discussion at the SRA's Compliance Officer Conference, taking place on 20 October. The event will be hosted by legal correspondent and broadcast journalist Clive Coleman. Book your free place now.

Read more details of the response to the initial consultation on the SQE

Read the report: Qualification in other jurisdictions – international benchmarking

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